That there is nothing weak about kindness and compassion

It has been remarked that Elijah was a kind man. I tell my daughters—and I have to say, listening to Elijah’s daughters speak, that got me choked up. I am sure those of you who have sons feel the same way, but there is something about daughters and their fathers. And I was thinking, I would want my daughters to know how much I love them, but I would also want them to know that being a strong man includes being kind. That there is nothing weak about kindness and compassion. There is nothing weak about looking out for others. There is nothing weak about being honorable. You are not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect. I was sitting here and I was just noticing the Honorable Elijah E. Cummings and, you know, this is a title that we confer on all kinds of people who get elected to public office. We’re supposed to introduce them as honorable.

But Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected to office. There’s a difference. There is a difference if you are honorable and treated others honorably outside the limelight. On the side of a road; in a quiet moment, counseling somebody you work with; letting your daughters know you love them…

~ Excerpt from former U.S. President Barack Obama’s eulogy yesterday honoring Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland (Read full text of eulogy @ The Atlantic, October 25, 2019)

Move it up. Top of your list. Now.

She was, quite simply, a nice lady who’d raised a family and now lived quietly with her cats and grew vegetables. This was both nothing and everything.

~ Gail Honeyman, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

 

 

Flying AA1330 on A321S. Need Another Day.

First flight out of Dallas. 6:36 a.m. on-time departure.

Foot traffic unusually light at DFW, as are the lines at Security and at the Gate.

Ah yes, September 11. And, the morning of September 11th.

Pilot gets on the intercom, and announces that we’re flying on an Airbus A321S. 168,000 pounds, 450 mph at cruising altitude.

Plane unusually quiet. More seats empty than usual for this flight.

Pilot dims the lights in the cabin.

Cabin is silent as the plane taxis up to the runway.

It’s dark in the cabin, my seat mate snoozes. Me? Restless. Churning.

[Read more…]

Lightly child, lightly (not…)

 

Our Zeke (December 26, 2007 – September 5, 2016)


Notes:

  • Inspired by Pam Houston, Deep Creek: “And if I say, even so, that it has been only the rare human who has given me an animal’s worth of love back, it’s not because I underestimate the power of human love. It’s because I have been lucky enough to live in the unconditional, unwavering, uncommon, gale force of love directed at me from my animals.”
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Sunday Morning

“You’re going to ask if you can marry my daughter,” Nan’s father said.

“Yes,” James answered.

“Why?”

James thought: Because she is jolly and pretty and bright, like a firefly, blinking in and out of hedges and trees. Because I imagine her in the kitchen, washing dishes, looking out the window and humming to herself, her brow knit in concentration. I imagine myself coming up behind her, putting my arms around her, resting my chin on her shoulder. I imagine her face turning up to me, bright and pale and astonishing, and I imagine her lips just before I kiss her, full and parted, almost singing the words of a song. Because I think beyond kissing her, because I think about her naked and warm under clean sheets and damp from the bath. I imagine her bare ankle rubbing against my own. I imagine her hair disheveled; I imagine myself smoothing it out of her eyes. I imagine making toast with her and eating it at a round table. When I do, I am just as crazed with passion for her as I would be in bed. There is no difference between imagining her naked and imagining her with a kerchief over her hair. 

“Because I love her,” he said.

~ Cara Wall, The Dearly Beloved: A Novel (Simon & Schuster, August 13, 2019)


Notes:

Driving I-95 S. I Wear My Sunglasses At Night.

5:33 am.

Tuesday.

I dial up 80’s on 8 on Sirius, and accelerate down the exit ramp, spilling into light traffic onto I-95 South. Another day. Rick Moody’s “relentless sameness to it.”

Second song on the playlist: Sunglasses at Night. Corey Hart. (1983). I clip the front end…and then the chorus, and the lyrics spin and spin and spin.

I wear my sunglasses at night / So I can so I can / Watch you weave then breathe your story lines. / I wear my sunglasses at night / I wear my sunglasses at night./ So I can so I can / Keep track of the visions in my eyes / I wear my sunglasses at night / I wear my sunglasses at night / So I can so I can
See the light that’s right before my eyes

18-wheeler, no branding, slides into the center lane, and then again into the left lane. I’m doing 70 mph and he’s widening the gap. He’s passed 4 other semis, UPS, US Postal Service, Sysco and New England Seafood Distribution, before returning to the center lane. Clear skies as far as you can see.

Lanes tighten up ahead, and he slows in the construction zone. I approach and he’s to my right.  He bobbles left into my lane, and I slide left into the towering cement highway divider. If your window was open, you could brush that divider with our hand. Steady DK, Steady.

I tighten my grip on the steering wheel. Five hours sleep, and a miscalculation of the dosage of ZzzQuil, new sleep medication. Steady DK.

He slides back into his lane, I shift lanes and exit onto I-287. He heads to Manhattan.  Exhale.

I wear my sunglasses at night. I wear my sunglasses at night.  [Read more…]

Lightly child, lightly

Laurel had embarked on this photo project that involved trying to take portraits of people, at night, who were distantly related to her through DNA. She went online, to sites like 23andMe and Ancestry.com and located people who were listed as cousins or distant relations of some kind, and then she approached these people and asked if they would allow her to take their picture. She ended up doing hundreds of these images… I loved her DNA project, which breaks down ideas of race and family until they are no longer operative in the normally simplistic ways that we talk about them in our cultural discussions. Laurel’s “family” as described by the DNA portraits transcended class, generation, race, political belief, region, and every other boundary you could erect in which to wall off your “family” from those other people out there at the edge of your property. She photographed gun-toting Republicans in the South, and Democratic African American union guys not too many states away. She shot Mennonites in Oregon. She shot Jews in Queens. The American family, in Laurel’s project, could be anywhere, at any time, and the responsibility to love them and treat them with respect, therefore, extended outward into the unexplored expanses beyond home, until home was in every direction.

~ Rick Moody, The Long Accomplishment: A Memoir of Hope and Struggle in Matrimony (August 6, 2019)


Notes:

  • Poem – Thank you Karl @ Mindfulbalance.
  • Photo: “Tyler, Texas #1, 2013” by Laurel Nakadate, Courtesy of Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York from Slate: “The Photographer Is Related to All of These Strangers
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Flying S.S.W. This ain’t Disney.

August 7th. This morning. 6 a.m. LaGuardia Airport. New York City.

Peak summer vacation season.

Young Parents. Families. Children. Babies. Backpacks. Teddy Bears. Duffel bags. Baby bottles.

Mothers, carrying delicate cargo, children nuzzled in necks, arms straining, heavy eyelids – – and it’s only 6:15 am. It’s going to be a long day.

ID’s. Passports. Longer. Everything’s longer. Wait times at check-in. At security. At X-Ray machines. But today, it’s ok. Families, together, excited, it’s summer vacation. There’s a sense of community in the terminal this morning. It’s buzzing. A good buzz.

Air conditioning blows in the waiting area, children huddle, gathering warmth around knees of their parents.

CNN blaring from TVs overhead. White Nationalists. Hate. More dead. [Read more…]

You’re as smooth as Tennessee whiskey

Lori shared it. I can’t let it go. A cover of Chris Stapleton’sTennessee Whiskey.

And a Youtube comment from J. Scott Hamilton that followed: “your voice tells us you’re a great singer. Your daughter’s smile tells us you’re a better dad.”

to live as men for others

Many mentors have influenced me with their muscular Christianity, but Father Byrne’s method of shaping souls was different. He drew upon St. Francis of Assisi’s maxim: “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” The diminutive priest was a giant in my life but made himself small so students like me would aspire, as he did, to live as men for others.

This is the phrase—men for others—that runs through my mind this Father’s Day. It’s how men like my dad and Father Byrne lived, and I’m convinced it’s critical to being a good father; indeed, a good person. Find something meaningful that is bigger than yourself and live for it, simple as that. For seeking the good of another is more than living, it is loving.

To my many fathers and to all like them, thank you and Happy Father’s Day

~ Mike Kerrigan, from To All the Fathers in My Life, Thank You (wsj.com, June 14, 2019)


Photo Credit

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